IOWA CITY, IOWA — A producer survey conducted by Farm Futures indicated farmers intend to plant more corn and cotton, less soybeans and sorghum and possibly less wheat in 2019.
“Growers said they want to boost corn and cotton acreage, while cutting back on crops affected by China’s import tariffs on soybeans and sorghum,” Farm Futures said. “And, while U.S.D.A. previously expected farmers to sow more wheat, uncertain prices and winter wheat planting delays could force a reduction in most classes.”
The survey showed farmers intend to plant 90.3 million acres of corn, down from a summer 2018 Farm Futures survey that showed 2019 intensions of 90.8 million acres, but up 1.3% from 89,140,000 acres planted in 2018. The Farm Futures number compares with 92 million acres initially forecast by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in November in long-range projections that will be revised at the U.S.D.A.’s annual Agricultural Outlook Forum scheduled for Feb. 21-22. The first survey-based U.S.D.A. plantings forecast is set for release March 29.
Farmers plan to plant 84.6 million acres of soybeans in 2019, well down from the summer survey that showed planting intentions at 87.5 million acres, “but that was just as the bite of China’s 25% tariff on U.S. imports was beginning to be felt,” Farm Futures said. The latest results compare with 82.5 million acres projected by the U.S.D.A. in November and with 89,145,000 acres planted in 2018.
“Hopes for an end to tariffs likely convinced some farmers to plant more soybeans than many in the trade expected,” Farm Futures said, noting that the timing of their latest survey was after tensions between the United States and China had eased slightly. Farm Futures surveyed 626 farmers by an email questionnaire from Dec. 7 to Jan. 3.
“New crop soybean futures gained on corn over the fall, with the current ratio of 2.35 (soybean price divided by corn price) giving soybeans only a slight edge,” Farm Futures said.
Farmers intend to plant 5.1 million acres of sorghum, down 12% from 2018, while boosting cotton plantings by 4.1% to 14.6 million acres, “thanks to better prices and soil moisture across the growing region.”
Winter wheat seeded for harvest in 2019 was indicated at 31.6 million acres, down 2.7% from Farm Futures summer survey because of fall planting and fertilizer application delays due to wet weather. Winter wheat planted for harvest in 2018 was 32,535,000 acres, the lowest since U.S.D.A. records began in 1909. Farmers intend to plant 12.5 million acres of spring wheat, down 5% from 13,200,000 acres planted in 2018, and 2.5 million acres of durum, up 21% from 2,065,000 acres in 2018, which was a three-year low. All wheat planted area was forecast at 46.6 million acres, down 2.5% from 47,800,000 acres in 2018.
“But low wheat prices and good soil moisture on the northern Plains could also convince some farmers to plant corn, soybeans and other crops rather than spring wheat,” Farm Futures said. Also, trade sources have indicated that strong spring wheat prices relative to durum values may pull some acres away from durum to spring wheat.
The U.S.D.A.’s Winter Wheat and Canola Seedings report, which would have provided survey-based fall planting estimates, scheduled for Jan. 11 was not released because of the partial shutdown of the federal government. Final revisions for 2018 crop production, as well as supply and demand estimates for January and Dec. 31, 2018, grain stocks estimates also fell prey to the shutdown.
While winter wheat seedings were completed last fall, commodity prices over the winter impact spring planting decisions, which are being made now so farmers can secure adequate supplies of seed, fertilizer and other inputs. Some spring acreage already is “locked in” due to crop rotation schedules, fall fertilizer applications and other factors.
Farm Futures is a business information resource for large-scale U.S. farmers. It is a Farm Progress brand, which is an informa PLC business.